The Mzuzu derby between Mzuni FC and Moyale Barracks on Monday, ended 1-1 at Mzuzu Stadium but it was characterized by unwanted stoppages, crude tackles and serious injuries by both players and supporters; all because of referee Ranwell Sibale’s indecisiveness in his debut match at the top flight league level.
Sibale, who comes from Chitipa and has just been promoted to officiate Super League games this year, was given the Mzuzu derby as his debut by the Northern Region Referees Committee, a thing which the committee is undoubtedly regretting.
Both sides were fast on the ball and fast in attacking from the first whistle.
Mzuni’s new signing Ramadan Ntafu was fouled outside the penalty area in the 19th minute.Henry Misinjo’s free-kick was marvelous as he curled the ball over the soldiers’ human wall intothe roof of Moyale’s net far from keeper Macdonald Harawa’s reach to put the students in the lead.
The soldiers replied a minute later when captain Gastin Simkonda broke through on the left and his shot was poorly handled by goalkeeper Pilirani Mapira, allowing Brown Magaga an easy tap to cancel the lead.
Then the two benches started noticing Sibale’s poor decisions as at times he could not read his assistants remarkably well. Mzuni Caoch Alex Ngwira was sent to the terraces in the 33rd minute for a firm grip and roughly pulling fourth official George Aziz Nyirenda from his chair as a wayof gesturing his anger for Sibale’s indecisiveness.
In the second half, the players were giving each other serious knocks with an aim to intimidate each other to force a winning goal.
The students were more offensive than the soldiers in their attacks. Twice in the 61st minute, Ramadan Ntafu missed clear chances, one-on-one against goalkeeper Macdonald Harawa.
Then in the 68th minute, Harawa who was already on a yellow for a similar offence, got off his penalty area to block a Mzuni player who had broken through on the right but his tackle was so crude that spectators and players saw referee Sibale fishing out a red card from his pocket.
Harawa’s body language was submissive to the oncoming verdict as he left the goal posts and lied down a few metres from his team’s technical area, seemingly crying and awaiting the red card to be flashed.
Like swam of bees, Moyale Barracks players surrounded the ref and he eventually rescinded his decision. This angered Mzuni fans who stoned Moyale’s Boyboy Chimaon the field of play, leaving him with a cut on the head.
They also tore to pieces TNM placards that were close to their stand. Play had to stop for about 18 minutes as assistant referee BenardSimwawa ran for his life from missiles that were being thrown at him by angry Mzuni fans.
When play resumed, ten minutes were added onto the ninety and when Sibale blew the final whistle, Moyale Barracks players were seen taking off their shirts and leaping at Mzuni players and fans like a platoon raid.
The result was that some Mzuni players were seriously beaten and hurt just as supporters were. But one fateful Mzuni fan was mercilessly and seriously woundedand had to be rushed to Mzuzu Central Hospital.
Speaking after the match, Mzuni Assistant Coach, Ogrieve Macnebert Kazuwa, said the stoppages disturbed his team’s play very much.
“I blame the officiating panel. They were amateurish and I don’t understand why they were assigned this fierce derby,” remarked Kazuwa.
Moyale Coach Charles Kamanga said he was disappointed with the game’s very poor officiation.
But one observer told Nyasa Times that it was a very big mistake by the northern region referees body to give Sibale and his assistants from Karonga a crucial game like that of Mzuni and Moyale.
“I am not defending the soldiers. Neither am I defending the students. Both camps, in my view, were provoked by the ref’s incompetence. Moyale are known to be the most disciplined team of all MDF teams in the super league. I tell you if Harawa was shown that warranting red card, Boyboy wouldn’t have been stoned, the assistant ref wouldn’t have been stoned and Moyalewouldn’t have reacted the way they did. I saw a Mzuni supporter being beaten almost to deathand this is very pathetic,” he lamented.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :